In time of COVID-19, we are (relatively obviously) inundated with calls and e-mails from people inquiring not only for Chamilo hosting (and other) services, but also for asynchronous communications for students and teachers alike.
Suffice to say that there are already several options to do that in Chamilo:
- a global chat box allows you to chat with other users of the portal in a safe environment (particularly important for K-12)
- a course chat box allows all students of a course to chat with their teacher in a specific course context
- the existing incredible integration with the excellent Open Source videoconferencing software BigBlueButton from our good friends at Blindside Networks (which comes limited but integrated to our Chamilo Pro plan)
But of course, Zoom.us has received critical recognition as a global saviour in these trying times, providing an easy-to-use solution with freemium plans. So it is only natural for our customers to ask if we have a Zoom integration for Chamilo.
The answer, at this time, is: no, we don’t (or rather Chamilo doesn’t). If you happen to have a development version of Chamilo (from Git), though, you could use the “Embed Registry” plugin as a workaround, asking each teacher to copy-paste links to his/her future conference rooms in this plugin space in their course. That would work just fine for non-institutional Zoom subscriptions, or simply free Zoom accounts.
We’re already developing a deeper integration, though. But in the meantime, we’d like to suggest you give BigBlueButton a try, and that is for two major reasons:
BigBlueButton has a Web client
BigBlueButton offers a web client, whereas Zoom requires a specific application to be installed.
This may seem like a minor issue, but in particular for academical institutions with little IT support available, and in particular when integrated to a Learning Management System like Chamilo, this makes a considerable difference. A web client allows user to seemlessly move, inside the browser, from the LMS to the videoconference, only accepting the browser’s request to share audio and video streams.
BigBlueButton is Open Source
Being Open Source ensures you have many ways to customize the solution, and you can install it on-premises if you want to. You don’t have to manage silly recurrent license costs as the software level, and if you have an IT team available to help, they can probably install BigBlueButton swiftly.
You also keep control of your conference recordings, as they are stored on a server you control and that is connected to your LMS (Chamilo in this case).
Of course, that doesn’t take away the merit from Zoom, having been able to manage a drastic increase in demand in just a few weeks. Zoom is great, we use it too for some of our conferences with customers. It’s just that there are other options and, in the end, others might work out for you just as well, or even better
Oh, and before we close this article, let me mention the great Jitsi, another Open Source videoconferencing software that has been working under the radar from most people until now, and that has also received wide approval from users in search for videoconferencing tools for education.